Synaxaria - ''These are not only social, but also quite personal ''
“Synaxaria” is about people’s destiny beyond the grave. The duo of Dzmitry & Natallia Kramoushchanka infuses their music with passion and energy that is set against conceptual tales of history and their homeland. Their new album Rzheczpospolita continues the evolution from Deep Dark Waters, dynamic and uplifting. Combining both male and female vocals sung in both English and Belarus, it is an album full of rich textures and tapestries set against their Folk and Metal that are rousing themes of ardor and history.
Dzmitry: The music of Synaxaria has really become more dynamic now. And I would add that it is more cheerful and heavy. If earlier I met the characteristics of our music as "melancholic romanticism", now this romanticism is probably not so melancholic anymore. I began to like melancholy less with age, I like energy)
The concept Rzeczpospolita and its connection to the commonwealth of Poland?
Natallia: I can say it's the most conceptual album of all we've done before! Each song is a story about characters who once lived here, in Rzheczpospolita. There were Tatars and Jews, ancestors of modern Poles and Belarusians, Swedes and even Scots! It could be a real person, or it could be a nameless participant of numerous wars that took place here, but they all are united with some things - they lived here, and they created a fantastic diversity of cultures, preserving their own heritage and saturating the common history. They all have their legends; culture and they all left their mark in history of Rzheczpospolita. We tried to show how life here looked like in those days, through the eyes of those heroes.
The track Pan Potock and its story of Jan Chachot
Dzmitry: Actually, these are two different tracks) Pan Potocki this is Mikolaj Bazyli Potocki. According to the traditions of Rzeczpospolita, the treatment "pan" is used, which means roughly "Mister". This is a crazy and colorful character associated with the Ukrainian lands of Rzeczpospolita. Many amazing and often tragic stories are associated with his name. If he had a little more promotion, he could become as famous a character as Count Dracula! Pototsky was a magnate, he had his own castle and his own army, with which he terrified the entire district. He wasn't a vampire, but because of his cruelty and madness, he was feared no less. When he had feasts and drinking parties in his castle, everything around rumbled. In the middle of the night, he could ride with his retinue and kidnap a girl he liked or rob a monastery or something like that. Actually, a brutal character for metal history) But of course, this is only one side of it. When he sobered up, he usually repented of his actions and tried to atone for them. In Ukraine today there is a lot of architectural heritage that was built with the sponsorship of Potocki. And the ruins of his castle are still there. By the way, there is a small article about him even in the English wiki, you can read it to get an idea.
As for Jan Chachot, our composition “The Underground Bell” is our second work with the story of this poet of 19th century. This is again an adaptation of our traditional folk legend about the church, which, for some sins, fell to the ground and now sadly rings its bells from there.
Well, let me remind you that we always talk about all of this and more in special posts on our social media.
Is it difficult to merge classical literature with your modern music approach?
Dzmitry: It seems to me that metal bands have long learned writing albums about even more archaic books. Such, for example, as Elder Edda or Kalevala. And someone even writes on the basis of ancient Egyptian or Sumerian spells. So, there was no problem here. Fiction historical literature, as well as history and folklore, is a real treasury of stories that we are very interested in embodying in our compositions. But Natalia and I always try to personally visit some significant historical or natural place. Most often, ideas for compositions appear under the impression of such personal visits.
The vocals are more varied and beautiful. Is this through reflecting the characters within the album?
Dzmitry: Of course! It was both intentional and intuitive at the same time. We tried to make the voice, even on an emotional level, reflect the character of the heroes of the songs. I hope someone can catch the overall mood of the songs even if they don't know the lyrics or the language.
The importance of shades and dynamics within your music?
Dzmitry: To the highest degree! It's what I love about other bands' music and what I try to bring to my music. I think that those who cannot distinguish and feel these things can’t understand our music well.
It also has a large folk influence.
Dzmitry: Maybe because our album is about different national characters of Rzeczpospolita, which their national music reflects. Again, I hope someone can catch those notes and guess who the song is related to before even knowing the lyrics. We needed a certain level of authenticity as we travel back to the 18th century here on the album.
Who is Scott Ferguson?
''Do you want to make us tell the whole legend of the album in advance?) Okay, but the full version will be in our media anyway) So Scott Fergusson is one of the few fictional characters in our album. This is just a collective image of one very interesting phenomenon that took place in the history of Rzeczpospolita. As you can guess from the name, this is related to Scotland, but what exactly, we will tell later ;)
The importance of understanding the past?
Natallia: If you could live in Belarus, you understand how important it is! Of course, it's a sad joke, I never wish someone to get here right now! But if you look deeper, you'll find a lot of things in common with the Soviet regime. Any creative manifestation of personality is forbidden, human rights are a reason to laugh at it, human diversity labeled as strange and hazardous. On the other hand, there are countries like Poland - with its deep understanding of their historical treasures that created the national character. Respect for national history, understanding of processes which took place in the past and ability to draw conclusions helps to create and develop the best qualities - in people and in the country in general. I admire it. It's sad that Belarusians are deprived of this part of their great history.
Dzmitry: These are not only social, but also quite personal things for me. I really like the material culture and art of the past compared to the modern dominance of the disposable. The fundamental approach to information, education, culture in the past contrasts with the tik-Tok thinking of today. The romantic intellectual of the 19th century knew several contemporary languages, Greek and Latin. He knew by heart the poems of Homer and the chronology of the Roman emperors. This is not to mention the history of his own locality. He was well versed in the history of painting, literature, and music from antiquity to the present, and at the same time, for example, it was easy to compile a botanical or entomological reference book. By the way, now I have described Jan Chachot, who inspires us for the lyrics for the album. I think people could be better if they had such personalities as an ideal. IMHO, they are much more worthy of attention than various "popular bloggers" from social network recommendations.
The pride in your homeland? Is it an unexplainable connection?
Dzmitry: You know, we travel a lot around Belarus. Mostly poor, complex people live here. Locals often tell us: "Why did you come here? There is nothing to see here, this is a bad place." I see that they suffer, living here. They obsess with alcoholism, litter where they live and want to leave here. I understand that there are several reasons for this. But often people just don’t have an understanding and awareness of where they actually live. They think it's just a dreary and boring hole. If they had what you call "pride," perhaps they would at least have cleared the trash from the old grave or manor nearby. And also - what is associated with Belarus in the world? Chernobyl? Lukashenka? We want to tell you that once upon a time there were beautiful, interesting things here. It can be as interesting as the words of Tolkien or Game of Thrones, or any other story known to the mass audience. It seems to me that no one will feel bad if we try to convey such pride.
Are there any positives in conflict?
Dzmitry: What a conflict? Inside the Belarus? In Ukraine (In fact, there is a real war)? In Syria? In general? Anyway, I personally don’t like it at all. But I know what kind of ideology is popular in the society in Russia (and Belarus), in Asia, in Africa. This is tribal morality. – ‘Our leader and we are the best, and all the rest are our enemies. Total mobilization to sacred war for our nation and ideology. All who are outsiders and "weird" (especially gays) should be exiled. All who oppose the power of our leader must be destroyed.’ I think you understand that wars and conflicts are inevitable with such ideas. The only positive side can be if some forces of good enter into the conflict and win. For example, this happened once, and now the South Koreans have the opportunity to make Samsung computers, and not dig trenches for a portion of rice for the war with Japan…
And Belarus? How do you make it better?
Natallia: The things in Belarus get worse and worse. Living in a normal country, it could be hard to imagine and understand the depth of the hole our country is falling into. A lot of people are imprisoned, some are killed and some committed suicide. Also, people are killed in prison, and these people were the best members of Belarusian society - people of art, active, loving the history and culture of our land. All these terrible things are happening right now, and no one can feel safe here. And the most terrifying thing is that our cultural heritage is being erased from memory. People are forced to think they are only slaves "in honor of country and government". A lot of people left Belarus trying to escape. But there are also a lot of those who couldn't do this for many reasons. We try to show the beauty and majesty of the old epoch through our music. Maybe someone will find a response in his heart and soul while listening about old castles and churches, great persons and mysterious cemeteries. Maybe someone will feel this wonderful atmosphere and try to know more about this. I see that people now are worried about how to earn more money and to make their life more comfortable, so I haven't much hope, but... This is our way to make it better.
Dzmitry: I'd like to add, that various f*cking smartass outside of Belarus say: “If they have such a tyranny, why are they free to say these things here?”. Our dear ones! If someone in Belarus just snitch our words to the punitive "security agencies", we will be arrested even before this interview comes out. For more than one or two years we have been living with the understanding that we can be arrested every day. Every day we receive news that someone we know or someone like us has been arrested. This is not hysteria and posturing; this is the honest reality of Belarus. I never thought that I ‘d have to live in these sick conditions…
How do we find peace?
Dzmitry: Sorry, but I’m a big pessimist in this regard. I’ve already said that I see here what kind of morality prevails on entire continents – in the Arabian world, in China, in Russia. The humiliation of all who stand out, the cult of war and violence, the worship of "strong power". Many talks about the death of Western civilization with its democracy, tolerance, and gay parades. And this means welcome to their "alternative multipolar world" - the world of totalitarian irremovable regimes, total control, the extermination of any opposition and periodic wars for the "greatness of the state". I think we can find peace for a while if we go to some distant calm country where they won't get too soon. For example, New Zealand))
The dreams and goals of Synaxaria moving forward.
Dzmitry: I still remember our last interview with you) There I said that our act is very far from the modern world. Nowadays, on the one hand, we have repressions and a war for the reign of totalitarianism. And on the other hand, we have the well-fed Western civilization changes glamorous tik-Tok trends every 12 hours and says: ‘Here we are now, entertain us!’. All I can want in this situation is just to be physically and financially able to make my music, which comes from the heart. I perfectly understand that there can be no talk of money or popularity. If our creativity finds even a single response from someone, I will already be quite happy.